Have ePub, need mobi (2)

Started 1Jan2019. Updated 9Jan2019

This note follows up the Have ePub, need mobi from 2013, five years later. This page is in group Publishing.


The book I produced was Slappe observasjoner. Even if the text is in Norwegian you may still want to try out some downloads to view the results from there. There would be PDF (equal to the paper book), ePub (page layout, also equal to the paper book) and the .mobi that Amazon requires for the Kindle readers. However, the sources and the exported ePub used as input to the mobi-converter I have not published. Here’s the front page:

Slappe observasjoner (2018)

Slappe observasjoner (2018)

Tools to make the book

I used Apple Pages (7.3) to produce the book, at first running on macOS 10.13.6 (High Sierra). But there was a problem with shadows when I upgraded to macOS Majove. My watercolour paintings were scanned into jpg, but the front page I produced from a jpg by cutting out parts of it, doing some tool based edge refinement, and then exporting a png file with transparency. All of this in Adobe Photoshop Elements Editor (14.1). So there was nothing “between each trunk”. Of course, Preview is a nice tool that I cant’ get away from. I like it especially well with croppping and scaling, colours and all.

Tools (summary)

  • Apple Pages (7.3) on macOS High Sierra. Export to ePub
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements (14.1) (Cover elements)
  • Apple Preview (some cropping and scaling)
  • Calibre (3.36) (to convert ePub to .mobi) (Ended up using his)
  • ebook.online-convert.com (Not used but fairly ok)
  • Amazon Kindle Previewer 3 (also converts ePub to .mobi) (Not used, failed to tune it)
  • Send to Kindle ( (faster than mailing)
  • Kindle (1.23.3) (The reader. Most often the cover wasn’t there)
  • Logged in to https://www.amazon.com/ to see my library. Not easy to find. But I found it:
    • Hello, Øyvind: Account & Lists
      • Your Content and Devices
        • Show: Docs

Pages shadow export failed on a macOS update

I added some shadows to the trees in Pages and exported as PDF, which made the result you see on the cover above. However, when I upgraded to macOS 10.14.1 (Majove) the same version of Pages got the shadows wrong. I described this at the Apple discussion page at PDF export from same version of Pages in High Sierra and Mojave now has bad shadows. Apple contacted me and I sent them 195 MB of zipped files (nothing critical or sensitive they urged – so I didn’t, how could I be 100% certain it was them, after all). So I hope there will be an update. I had already done the work before I updated, so I was fine. But since I have two machines, one with the older High Sierra and one with the newer Majove I did the rest of the work on the High Sierra iMac.

Pages to ePub to .mobi as presented on Kindle PaperWhite

My PaperWhite is model no. DP75SDI, so it’s the 2nd generation of PaperWhite: PaperWhite 2. So I have not been able to test on the newer versions PaperWhite 3 and PaperWhite 4 (as of Jan2019).

The problems

Here are some of the problems that I had to run slalom to find my way around. Partly because the a pole seemed to move just before I was going to pass it

  • The cover. Pages lets me define either the first picture of the document as cover or a separate file, during an export to ePub. But of the two I was not able to find what made the cover appear on my Kindle. Some times it did, some times it didn’t. I ended up specifying a separate jpg file, but it had to be rather large (I think). There is a possibility in Kindle Previewer 3 to see a slappe observasjoner conversionLog.txt file. This is very nice. It told that Warning(prcgen):W14019: Cover is too small. So I increased its size and got rid of that message. My final front page was w5904*h7874, even if after conversion for any Kindle it would have become much smaller. However, it didn’t help with when and when not the cover appeared on the Kindle, but I think it still helped some way or the other
  • Kindle and cover not seen in full scale. Some converters would add a full cover at the end. This was difficult to get right. To make sure the cover was seen full scale I added one as the first picture, after a ToC and some other text. Calibre (3.36, 3.35 failed completely with Unknown for the title, but I discovered there was an update) actually added the cover also at the end. So now it’s at two places. I have really only verified this on the PaperWhite 2, who knows how it would look on other ebook readers. So I kept them both
  • Table of Context (ToC). Some converters would add an ToC at the end, and also show the full cover. This was difficult to get right. So I ended up in Calibre with specifying no Table of Context. Instead I added one in Pages, at the start. This was respected by Calibre
  • Pictures that should be alone on a page, since I filled up a page in Pages. I used text layout (not page layout) in Pages for the source meant for this ePub. A sequential text file will have none or little that’s called a page, but in Pages filling up a page with a picture makes sense. Only Calibre seemed to respect my wish that the pictures should be alone, and not have the next heading or previous text page cluttering around. Aside: I discovered in Pages that when a picture filled a page (of 15*20 cm) I could make the width 14.5 cm and make sure there was a newline character there. Switch View invisible characters on. Then back to full size 15 cm. This seemed to help when I used Kindle Previewer 3 to convert, but not with Calibre. So I ended without these hidden newlines
  • Headings on top of the page. On headings even a Kindle would respect the fact that it should start on the top of the screen. This was never a problem for the chapters that did not start immediately after a picture. However, I did find a conversion with ebook.online-convert.com that did this correctly. That is, if I converted with Target ebook reader: default. But on the next slalom pole to pass it had moved (or I was testing some slight change in the Pages file) and I had to use Target ebook reader: kindle
  • Blank lines between paragraphs. At first it looked like the pixel count before or after a paragraph was respected, when I used ebook.online-convert.com. But I am not sure. However, in Calibre I ended up setting blank lines to 1,0 em. According to the built-in Help this should become the double (2,0 em), but to me it does not look like that
  • Soft and hard line ends. This seemed to be respected by Calibre. Lines with soft breaks would be nicely bundled together after a Calibre churn
  • Viewing a .mobi file in Amazon Kindle Previewer. I have the impression that the only .mobi producer it accepts is itself.  It complained in a dialogue box, when I tried to import the only ok .mobi file I was able to produce that Enhanched Typesetting preview is not supported for this book since the Mobi file has been created by an older version of Kindlegen or by 3rd party tools. Please open the original source file directly or use the latest version of Kindlegen to convert this to a compatible Mobi file. Please refer to the FAQs for more information. OK (not OK!) So, even with a seemingly successful file for my Kindle the above is what I got when I tried to read it in Kindle Previewer 3. And when it does show up there are lots of problems with it. However, the biggest problem is that when I tried to convert to .mobi with the proper Kindle Previewer 3 (from my flow layout ePub) I found no way to tune the .mobi file to look nice on my Kindle.